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USPS Ordered to Restore High-Speed Machines for Election Mail

A federal judge ordered the U.S. Postal Service to restore high-speed mail-sorting machines at any facilities that are unable to process First Class election mail quickly enough — a major concern for states as the postal agency continues to struggle with service performance.

The order late Thursday by U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington is a win for a group of states that successfully sued USPS and President Donald Trump to halt a series of operational changes that hobbled the postal service just before an expected surge in use of mail-in ballots during the pandemic.

At struggling facilities, “available processing equipment will be restored to service to ensure that USPS can comply with its prior policy of delivering election mail in accordance with First Class delivery standards,” the judge said.

Read More: USPS Still Not Sorting Election Mail Fast Enough, States Say

The order was intended to clarify a Sept. 27 injunction targeting the operational changes instituted by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a major Trump donor who took the helm at USPS earlier this year. USPS had asked the judge to clarify the scope of the order, arguing that the massive sorting machines DeJoy ordered taken apart over the summer couldn’t be put together again.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who led a group of states in the lawsuit — one of three such multi-state cases — said in a tweet Thursday that USPS had failed to comply with this injunction.

@NewYorkStateAG

After failing to comply with this injunction for a month, today we secured a court order making it abundantly clear that the Trump admin must stop violating the law and must deliver all ballots immediately.
We will do everything in our power to protect people’s right to vote.
NY AG James

@NewYorkStateAGWe just secured an injunction blocking the Trump administration’s attempt to dismantle the #USPS.
We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure every eligible voter can cast a ballot in November, period.
https://twitter.com/NewYorkStateAG/status/1301221026240573443

12:20 AM · Oct 23, 2020

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The USPS didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Sullivan acknowledged the USPS concern that reassembling all such machines “may not be possible,” but ordered it done anyway at any facility that can’t keep up with delivery election mail, such as mail ballots, as first class mail.

In a Pennsylvania case, a judge on Wednesday denied the state’s request to appoint an independent monitor to ensure the USPS followed through on its court-ordered commitments.

DeJoy’s changes included bans on employee overtime and late delivery trips that helped ensured delivery of millions of pieces of mail, as well as a policy to disassemble hundreds of mail-sorting machines, a change that particularly hit high density urban areas that lean Democratic. One federal judge said it was “easy to conclude” that the changes were intended to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election.

Read More: Judge Blasts DeJoy’s ‘Intentional’ Bid to Disrupt Election

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Trump Painting May Fetch $750,000 at Auction Before Election

Before he became U.S. President, Donald Trump used $10,000 from his foundation to buy a six-foot-tall oil portrait of himself at auction.

Next week, he’ll have a chance to bid on a bigger, albeit less flattering image: “Trump Descending an Escalator.”

The 2017 painting by New York artist Dana Schutz depicts a familiar stocky figure with bulging eyes riding down a golden escalator. The work is a highlight of the 20th century and contemporary art auction at Phillips being held just two weeks before the U.S. election. About 7-feet-tall and 6-feet-wide, it will be offered in London on Oct. 20, with an estimate of 380,000 pounds to 580,000 pounds ($750,000).

“Dana Schutz is one of the most significant painters of her generation and she has never shied away from challenging or hot button subjects,” said Robert Manley, deputy chairman at Phillips. The work touches “on a dizzying array of politics, art history and pop art.”

The image riffs on Trump’s famous 2015 escalator ride at Trump Tower in New York when he announced he was running for president. The moment became fodder for late-night comedians and made a cameo appearance on “The Simpsons.” It’s also a nod to “Nude Descending a Staircase,” a 1912 canvas by Marcel Duchamp.

Schutz, 44, is known for large and bold figurative canvases that re-imagine historic and mundane situations, often by adding elements of the absurd. She created the Trump work for a fundraiser at Petzel gallery in New York in January 2017.

“I don’t really make super-topical paintings,” Schutz later said about the Trump painting in a New Yorker interview. “But I wanted to get that moment of suspense, when you know something is going to happen and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.”

While not overtly political, Schutz’s work has sparked controversy. Soon after the Petzel show, another painting, “Open Casket,” depicting Black teenager Emmett Till who was tortured and lynched in 1955, drew protests and calls for removal – and even destruction – at the Whitney Biennial. The artist, who is White, was accused by activists of exploiting Black history. The painting remained on view, but Schutz had said she won’t sell it.

“Trump Descending an Escalator” was priced at $200,000 when it sold in 2017 to an anonymous collector, according to Petzel. The artist’s auction record is $2.4 million.

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Trump Undercuts Campaign Reset as He Weighs Prospect of Defeat

Donald Trump has begun openly acknowledging his precarious re-election chances, but is undercutting his own campaign’s attempts to tailor appeals to women and seniors as polls show them flocking toward Joe Biden.

Recent polls have shown Biden with growing leads nationally and in key battleground states, an advantage driven largely by erosion in Trump’s support among women and people 65 and older. Trump’s campaign has begun running more ads aimed at seniors, and hopes some of the loss can be offset by gains among Latino and Black voters.

But the campaign’s efforts to reverse the trends face a headwind: Trump himself. The president has undercut the outreach to seniors by continuing to downplay the coronavirus outbreak and by mocking Biden’s age.

He’s tested what support he still enjoys from women by unloading particularly pointed attacks on Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, and by mocking Hillary Clinton’s failure to crack the “glass ceiling” on the White House. And a televised town hall Thursday was almost immediately derailed by Trump declining to disavow a far-right conspiracy theory movement, QAnon.

Meanwhile, the prospect he may lose re-election has begun to creep into Trump’s speeches, even as he insists that polls are wrong. “I’m running against the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics, and if I lose, it puts more pressure,” Trump said at a rally Thursday in North Carolina. “How do you lose to a guy like this?”

He has reprised a version of that remark at most of his events this week while pointing to signs that polls may not capture the state of the race: the thousands of supporters attending his rallies; Republican success registering voters in some competitive states; boat parades in his honor.

‘Consistent Message’

“The president has not been able to sustain a consistent message on issues that are critical to the electorate, whether it be the handling of the pandemic or the economy,” said Ken Spain, a veteran Republican strategist. “He’s taken to making direct pleas to critical demographic groups as opposed to laying out an agenda.”

Trump’s allies have begun voicing their concerns publicly. Texas Senator John Cornyn said in a Fox News interview this week that he is “very concerned” about Trump’s standing in polls, making it even more urgent that Republicans hang onto the Senate as “as a firewall.” South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said Thursday he thinks Biden has a “good chance” of beating Trump.

Trump himself has been more circumspect.

“I guess the polls are close but I don’t believe the polls,” Trump told an American Enterprise Institute podcast, “What the Hell Is Going On,” in an episode released Wednesday. “We have a lot of people registering as Republicans that never did before. So I think we’re going to be in great shape. I just see it. I see the enthusiasm. It’s incredible.”

Close Race

Biden’s campaign has also urged caution, in a bid to prevent complacency among Democratic voters. Jen O’Malley Dillon, his campaign manager, said in a tweet this week that “we think this race is far closer than folks on this website think.”

Trump’s campaign said it’s confident with its strategy in the final weeks before the election. “President Trump has effectively made his case to the American people by governing with a successful America First agenda in his first term,” Samantha Zager, a Trump campaign spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

On Monday, Trump’s campaign manager, Bill Stepien, told reporters on a conference call that the president’s standing with seniors would be improved, including through ads aimed specifically at the demographic.

“Messaging that seniors want to see and is being delivered to them,” he said. “So whatever perceived slippage you’re seeing in your numbers among seniors, I’m absolutely certain that it will be addressed.”

Mocking Age

But late Tuesday, Trump retweeted a meme mocking Biden’s age, 77, and suggesting he should be a resident in a nursing home rather than president.

At the Thursday town hall, Trump was repeatedly off-message: endorsing parts of the QAnon conspiracy theory, bristling when asked why he hasn’t more forcefully condemned white supremacists and saying that contracting the coronavirus hasn’t made him change his views on masks, which he almost never wears. As the event concluded, he was offered a chance to speak directly to voters who wonder why he deserves a second chance, and offered little substance. “Because I’ve done a great job,” he replied.

It was the latest instance of Trump undermining his campaign’s reset.

When the campaign tried in May to seize on a Biden gaffe, in which the Democrat said that Black voters who support Trump “ain’t Black,” Trump tweeted a week later about “thugs” protesting the death of George Floyd.

During the summer, as polls showed him losing support among suburban women, Trump started using the term “suburban housewives,” an anachronism. In a Fox Business interview Oct. 8, Trump called Harris — the first Black and Indian-American woman to be join a major-party ticket — a “monster.” On Thursday in Greenville, North Carolina, he made fun of Clinton’s loss to him in 2016.

‘Glass Ceiling’

“They talked about the glass ceiling, right, the woman breaking the glass ceiling, and it didn’t work out that way — the glass ceiling broke her,” he said.

He added: “But there will be a woman that breaks the glass ceiling, it just won’t be Hillary. And you know who else it won’t be? It won’t be Kamala.”

He has recently acknowledged his deficit with women, while noting that he also polled poorly with women before his 2016 victory. In an appeal at a Pennsylvania rally on Tuesday, Trump said: “Suburban women, will you please like me?”

In Iowa, a state where a Senate race between two women could help determine control of the chamber, Trump said on Wednesday: “I heard I’m not doing well with suburban women, OK?”

“It’s true, they say that, but of course they said that last election too. ‘He will do terribly with women, terribly,”’ he continued. “And then when I did great with women, they said ‘Man, he did well with women.’ Same thing’s going to happen.”

A Washington Post/ABC News poll released Oct. 11 showed that Biden leads Trump by 23 percentage points among women voters and that the candidates are tied among men, a trend consistent with other surveys.

President’s Rallies

Trump’s tendency to muddy his campaign’s message is amplified by its dependence on his trademark campaign rallies. He has scheduled a rally every day this week in a frantic bid to close the gap with Biden, after spending more than a week off the campaign trail recovering from Covid-19.

It’s normal for a candidate’s base of support to vary slightly from one election to the next, Stepien said, arguing that Trump’s gains among minorities will make up for shifts to Biden among female and older White voters.

“I’m more than certain that those are going to be offset by gains in certain voting populations — Black, Hispanic and others, based on the president’s appeal, his policies and the outreach he’s been conducting for the last four years,” he said.

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Trump, Biden Clash Over Virus in Dueling TV Town Hall Events

President Donald Trump said Thursday he did an “amazing job” handling the coronavirus pandemic and defended his retweets of conspiracy theories while Democrat Joe Biden at the same moment was faulting the president’s leadership on the pandemic and stewardship of the economy.

The two candidates — who appeared in dueling televised town halls Thursday night — contrasted sharply in style and substance, with Biden giving what amounted to a public policy seminar while Trump discussed topics including the far-right conspiracy theory movement QAnon’s views on pedophilia.

“We saved two million people,” Trump said on NBC in Miami, as he praised his handling of the coronavirus, which has killed more than 217,000 people in the U.S. and left millions infected. Trump also questioned the use of masks to slow the spread of the virus — a step endorsed by his own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — saying people have still fallen ill after wearing them.

Biden, speaking on ABC from Philadelphia, said Trump failed to take necessary steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus: “It is the presidential responsibility to lead and he didn’t do that.”

67,708 in IndiaMost new cases today

+1% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

-1 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

5.​3% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), Aug.


Biden said the administration failed to provide enough testing and contact tracing and that businesses and schools need more funding and guidance to reopen and contain the virus.

The concurrent appearances made for one of the stranger moments of the 2020 campaign, fracturing television viewership as the candidates delivered their messages without the added tension and drama of a debate.

Trump’s handling of the pandemic has met with disapproval from an increasing number of voters and has contributed to Biden expanding his lead over the president, polls show. Trump has regularly downplayed the threat posed by the virus, touting an experimental antibody treatment he received while hospitalized for it and saying social-distancing measures advocated by Democrats did more harm than good.

In response to questions, Trump disavowed White supremacy -- after he drew intense criticism for failing to do so in his first debate with Biden on Sept. 29.

But he also defended his retweet of a conspiracy theory that baselessly claimed that SEAL Team Six killed only a body double of Osama bin Laden and that President Barack Obama and Biden as vice president had members of the team killed to cover it up. Trump said he was putting the information out for people to make their own decision.

“I do a lot of retweets and frankly because the media is so fake and so corrupt, if I didn’t have social media, I don’t call it Twitter I call it social media, I wouldn’t be able to get the word out,” Trump said.

Asked about QAnon, a debunked conspiracy theory, Trump said he couldn’t disavow it because he didn’t know enough about it. “I do know they are very much against pedophilia,” Trump said. “They fight it very hard.”

Trump appeared to confirm reports that he owes $400 million but didn’t specify his creditors. “The amount of money, $400 million, is a peanut, it’s extremely underlevered,” Trump said. “And it’s levered with normal banks. Normal banks. Not a big deal.”

Biden said that he would contain the virus “by being rational” and pointed to the plan he released to help businesses and schools navigate the new reality. He also disputed Trump’s assertion about the speed of the recovery.

“He talks about a V-shaped recovery -- it’s a K-shaped recovery,” Biden said.

Biden said that he would personally take a coronavirus vaccine if scientists ensured that it is ready and has gone through the appropriate clinical trials. But Biden hedged his answer on whether he would mandate a vaccine nationally once it is developed, saying it would be difficult to ask everyone to take it, the same say it’s difficult to mandate masks nationally.

Biden said his pledge to repeal 2017 tax cuts would only apply to the wealthy, and that he would leave the middle class cuts untouched.

Biden weighed in on the hearings of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett on Capitol Hill this week, saying that proceeding with a confirmation before the election is “inconsistent when millions of people have already voted to put someone on the court.”

He again said he’s “not a fan” of a proposal by some liberal groups to expand the number of justices on the high court. But he left the door open to doing so. “I’m open to considering what happens from that point on,” he said, hinting that he would think about reforms to the court if Barrett is confirmed.

Trump repeated his claim that he’d protect health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions even though his Justice Department is suing to end Obamacare. “The problem with Obamacare is that it’s not good,” Trump said. “We’d like to terminate it.”

Asked whether he’ll pursue previous efforts to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program protecting certain young, undocumented immigrants from deportation, Trump said, “We are going to take care of DACA, we’re going to take care of Dreamer, it’s working right now, we’re negotiating different aspects of immigration and immigration law.”

The two candidates originally were supposed to debate Thursday night. Instead of sparring with each other, the town hall format gave the candidates a less contentious opportunity to lay out their positions, and engage one-on-one with voters about issues they care about. But they couldn’t answer each other’s statements.

Trump backed out of the originally scheduled town hall format debate after his campaign rejected revised plans by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates for the candidates to appear remotely because of his infection with Covid-19. The campaign insisted that the president and his aides, a number of whom have also tested positive for coronavirus, posed no health risk. Trump did not say whether he was tested before the Sept. 29 debate in Cleveland.

NBC’s decision to schedule Trump’s town hall at the same time as Biden’s drew criticism from a group of more than 100 actors, writers and producers who complained in a letter to Comcast Corp. and NBCUniversal, calling it “a disservice to the American public.”

“We believe this kind of indifference to the norms and rules of our democracy are what have brought our country to this perilous state,” according to the letter, signed by director J.J. Abrams, actor Jon Hamm and writer-director Aaron Sorkin.

NBC said its decision to air the Trump town hall at the same time Biden’s began was out of a desire for “fairness” after hosting Biden in that hour last week.

“If we were to move our town hall with President Trump to a later time slot we would be violating our commitment to offer both campaigns access to the same audience and the same forum,” NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Cesar Conde said in a statement.

With 19 days until the election, early voting is already underway in two dozen states. In-person and mail-in voting are surpassing records amid concerns about Covid-19 transmission at polling places and what strategists in both parties say is heightened interest in the race.

— With assistance by Tyler Pager, Justin Blum, Mark Niquette, Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou, Justin Sink, and Jennifer Epstein

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Why Trump’s Covid-19 Antibody Cocktail Won’t Be Widely Available

The antibody cocktail U.S. President Donald Trump credited for his swift coronavirus recovery won’t become widely available because it’s impossible to make enough for everyone who might need it, according to the Swiss pharmaceutical giant working on scaling up production.

“We’ll never be able to produce enough,” said Bill Anderson, drugs chief at Roche Holding AG, which is working together with U.S. biotech Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. on the project. “This is clearly part of the answer for the world, not the answer. Hopefully we’ll have vaccines and other therapeutics.”

The partners will probably be able to make as many as 2 million doses per year by the end of next March if the drug cocktail wins regulatory approval, Anderson said. That’s about the number of new Covid-19 cases identified worldwide in the past week.

The need for a multipronged approach to treat the virus has come into focus as potential safety issues emerge in late-stage trials of some promising vaccines and treatments. Eli Lilly & Co. this week paused a study of its own Covid-19 antibody to investigate such a concern.

Roche on Thursday reported third-quarter sales that fell short of estimates after a one-two punch: older prescription drugs faced a challenge from cheaper copycats while the pandemic continued to discourage some patients from seeing their doctors. The stock fell as much as 3.6% in Zurich trading.

Big Dose

The U.S. has already secured hundreds of thousands of doses of experimental antibody treatments, federal health officials said earlier this month, before the Lilly trial was paused. At that point they expected to have 1 million doses on hand by the end of the year.

Trump touted Regeneron’s antibody cocktail as a cure and key to his recovery, saying he would make the drugs he took available for free to Americans. Regeneron has asked federal regulators for emergency clearance to sell the treatment. Though the drug had promising early results, the large clinical
trials to test its safety and efficacy haven’t finished yet.

Production capacity is limited in part because the antibody doses being studied for Covid-19 are so much bigger than for other diseases, according to Roche’s Anderson. For example, the low dose being evaluated in Regeneron’s trial, 2.4 grams, is about as much antibody as is used to treat a breast cancer patient for four to six months or a person with multiple sclerosis for two years, he said.

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Stimulus Talks Remain Deadlocked as House Told No Votes Expected

Prospects for a quick end to the stalemate over a new stimulus faded Monday with members of the House being told not to expect any action this week and many Senate Republicans rejecting the White House proposal for a deal.

President Donald Trump, well behind Democrat Joe Biden in every recent poll, again attempted to prod negotiations by urging the GOP by tweet to cut short confirmation hearings for his Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and focus on bolstering the economy. He amplified that in a later tweet in which he said Republicans should be “strongly focused” on a stimulus package.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to talk more this week as they attempt to bridge the gap between the Democrat’s $2.2 trillion proposal and the administration’s $1.8 trillion counteroffer. However, neither side has announced any schedule.

Even if they manage to strike a deal, there’s almost no chance of getting legislation written and passed by Congress before the Nov. 3 election, in which control of the White House and the Senate is at stake.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, sent out a notice to lawmakers Monday saying “that due to the Trump Administration’s failure to reach an agreement on coronavirus relief, no votes are expected in the House this week.” The House is not in session this week and most members are away from Washington. But they remain on 24-hour standby, though, should an agreement be reached.

Trump’s changes in direction last week — first calling off talks in a tweet, then saying he wanted a bigger package than even Democrats have proposed — may have hardened Pelosi’s resolve to hold firm. On Sunday she called the White House offer a “miserable and deadly failure.”

Investors took the standoff in stride. U.S. stocks climbed to the highest in almost six weeks, fueled also by a rally in big technology companies, which Trump highlighted in a tweet Monday morning.

“The stimulus stalemate still looms large, though it failed to derail the market,” said Chris Larkin, managing director of trading and investment product at E*Trade Financial.

One big issue for the administration may be Senate Republicans.

Multiple GOP senators participating in a Saturday conference call told Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that any agreement with Democrats that ends up around $2 trillion is too much, according to two people familiar with the call.

One of the people said Mnuchin’s offer to Pelosi wouldn’t have enough Republican votes to pass the Senate without major changes.

Some senators said that the spending levels being discussed were unacceptable and that ballooning the deficit will damage their standing with voters. Others said that a deal of that size would hand Pelosi and the Democrats a major victory right before the election, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

There also were objections to some of the policies, including expanding eligibility for the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have been trying to dismantle, and aid to state governments.

Mnuchin and Meadows told the senators they would relay their concerns to the president, who last week urged the negotiators to “go big.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who previously warned that some in the GOP won’t back another large stimulus package, has said there probably isn’t enough time to get any deal passed before the election.

Federal Reserve officials, led by Chairman Jerome Powell, have also stepped up their calls for a broad relief package to shore up the shaky U.S. economy.

Mnuchin and Meadows, in a letter Sunday directed at members of the House and Senate, again called for a more narrowly focused stimulus, citing the same areas as Kudlow.

“The all-or-nothing approach is an unacceptable response to the American people,” they wrote, a reference to Pelosi’s insistence that any relief package be broad and include provisions to stem the spread of the coronavirus and assist state and local governments.

Some lawmakers from both parties are pushing their leaders for a resolution.

“People in need can’t wait until February. 1.8 trillion is significant & more than twice Obama stimulus,” California Democratic Representative Ro Khanna wrote on Twitter. “Make a deal & put the ball in McConnell court.”

— With assistance by Rita Nazareth, and Vildana Hajric

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Trump’s Chance to Win Is Fading With Little Time Left to Recover

While the lesson of the 2016 campaign was never to count out Donald Trump, his path to re-election is narrowing dramatically as Democrat Joe Biden’s lead continues to grow and voters sour on the president’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump now trails Biden by an average of 9.7 percentage points nationally, and by about 5 to 7 points in key battleground states, according to the RealClearPolitics average of polling. With 25 days left, it’s not clear how Trump can make up lost ground.

The challenge got even harder Thursday when Trump rejected the idea of a virtual debate with Biden next week, erasing one of his few remaining opportunities to change the trajectory of the race.

“I don’t see how Donald Trump catches Joe Biden without having two debates,” Republican pollster Frank Luntz told Bloomberg Television on Thursday. “Without that debate, I can’t do the math to take him to where he needs to be if he expects to win this election.”

Democrats, still haunted by Trump’s 2016 victory over Hillary Clinton, aren’t yet celebrating. Clinton enjoyed a 5.3-point lead against Trump, on average, the same number of days before the election four years ago. But there are crucial differences this time, including a much higher favorability rating for Biden than Clinton enjoyed and Biden’s competitiveness in several states Trump carried in 2016, which also could shrink the president’s possible paths to re-election.

Trump may yet find a way to pull it out again this year, and he’s said he won’t leave office if he doesn’t believe the results are fair. Polls also may slightly exaggerate Biden’s lead if some Trump voters are undercounted.

But Democrats are growing hopeful that Biden’s lead is large enough that it could overcome small irregularities in polling or any last-minute ballot challenges from Trump that, in that case, wouldn’t be enough to erase a victory. And there are strengthening indications that Trump may take Republican control of the Senate with him.

State Polling

Trump owes his presidency to fewer than 80,000 voters in three Rust Belt states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, which he carried by less than a percentage point each. Biden now leads in Michigan by 6.2 points on average, Pennsylvania by 7.1 points and Wisconsin by 5.5 points, according to RealClearPolitics.

It’s not easy to make a direct comparison between 2016 and 2020 state polls, as pollsters survey different states at different frequencies from one election to the next. But generally, Clinton led Trump by similar and in some cases wider margins before the election four years ago. For example, in Wisconsin, she was leading by about 4 points; in Michigan by about 10 points. In Pennsylvania, polls showed a range of 6 to 9 points, depending on the survey.

“If public polls were to be believed, we’d be talking about Hillary Clinton’s re-election campaign right now,” said Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh. “The news media should get out of the business of predicting the future because they’re really bad at it. We know where the president stands in the states that will decide this election and he remains strong.”

Yet Trump has more problems now than he did four years ago. For one thing, his opponent is far less unpopular than Clinton: Heading into the 2016 election, 54% of Americans had an unfavorable view of Clinton. Only 44% now have a negative opinion of Biden, according to RealClearPolitics.

His recovery from Covid-19 has taken him off the campaign trail for a full week and counting, preventing him from in-person fundraising or holding rallies, his political lifeblood. The White House physician, Sean Conley, said Thursday he had cleared Trump to return to public engagements beginning Saturday.

And surveys show Trump is shedding support from women, suburban voters, and more recently, voters over 50 who have been unhappy with the administration’s handling of the pandemic. Seniors were a key part of Trump’s 2016 support, but his attempt to build support on a law-and-order platform during a summer of civil unrest backfired.

He already badly lags Biden in fundraising, meaning it’s increasingly difficult to persuade voters through advertising in those must-win states.

“It’s Biden’s to lose,” said Ed Rogers, a veteran Republican strategist and adviser to the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, who frequently criticizes Trump. “If Trump runs a good campaign from here on out and Biden runs a good campaign from here on out, it probably looks like Biden’s going to win.”

Debate Sparring

On Thursday, Trump said he wouldn’t participate in next week’s debate after the non-partisan commission that organizes the events insisted it be virtual because the president might still be contagious. That leaves only one more chance, on Oct. 22, for Trump to get a do-over on his first, widely panned televised face-off with Biden — but even that date is now in doubt as the campaigns argue over the debate calendar.

Trump’s campaign is most concerned with the loss of independent voters across demographic lines who could boost his standing beyond his core base of loyal supporters, one GOP official said. His base alone is probably not large enough in this cycle for him to win outright, the official said.

Aides noted that Trump started losing support after the September 29 debate, where he took an aggressive stance and frequently interrupted Biden, followed by his Covid-19 diagnosis, which forced the national conversation back to the pandemic despite the president’s numerous attempts to steer it in another direction, the official said.

One Republican pollster said Biden’s support may settle down to the range it had been in all summer once memories of the debate fade.

“When one candidate has a bad debate, and few candidates have had as bad a debate as Donald Trump did last Tuesday, there’s a temporary bump for the opponent and then things settle back down into the more normal margin,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayers. “But the the normal margin in this race has been 7-8 points, which is still a very substantial deficit.”

Financial markets were beginning to price in a Democratic win of the presidency and both chambers of Congress. “The higher likelihood of a blue sweep scenario seems to be the more dominant narrative” in markets, said Credit Suisse Group AG’s Jonathan Cohn.

And Abby Joseph Cohen of Goldman Sachs Group said Thursday that a so-called “blue wave” would bring more certainty to U.S. government fiscal actions and calm the markets.

“What we’re seeing from investors over the last several days is that a ‘blue wave’ might not be such a bad thing because it would give us more certainty with regard to policy, particularly with regard to the use of fiscal policy to help our economy at this point,” the strategist said.

Analysts are beginning to believe Trump could bring Senate Republicans down with him. Only one Democratic Senator, Doug Jones of Alabama, faces a difficult re-election, according to the non-partisan election handicapper Cook Political Report. Eight Republican-held seats are rated as leaning Democrat or a toss-up by the Cook Political Report. GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who is heading up the effort to seat Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, moved to the toss-up column on Wednesday.

Twitter Videos

Trump’s administration is determined to use the president’s recovery from coronavirus as proof that his minimalist approach to dealing with the pandemic was the right one from the beginning. “Don’t let it dominate your life,” Trump told voters in a video message posted on Twitter.

On Thursday, he released another video attempting to reassure elderly voters that if they get sick, the government will pay for the same level of care the president received, including experimental medicines he credits with curing him.

Among Americans 65 and older, Biden led Trump by 27 points in an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll of registered voters taken Sept. 30-Oct. 1. That’s a 23-point swing in one month for elderly voters in the poll. Trump carried seniors by 8 points in 2016, according to NBC exit polls.

Biden is leading in states like Iowa that Trump carried four years ago, and the two men are tied in Ohio. Biden is also running ahead of Trump in Florida and Arizona.

Yet the Trump campaign hasn’t advertised on television for a month in Ohio and cancelled most of its planned Iowa ads this week, according to the ad-tracking firm Advertising Analytics, a sign of its financial squeeze.

The economy, which had long been an asset for Trump, also now weighs against him. The last two incumbents to lose re-election, Jimmy Carter in 1980 and George H.W. Bush in 1992, both were ousted following recessions. The 7.9% unemployment rate in September is higher than at the time of either of their losses.

Rogers likened Trump voters to fickle fans at a long sporting event where the outcome is evident.

“They’re standing, I don’t think they’ve headed to the exits yet,” he said. “But Trump’s had a bad 10 days.”

— With assistance by Emma Kinery, Ksenia Galouchko, Tom Keene, Francine Lacqua, and Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou

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Michigan Governor Blames Trump for Fostering Hate Groups

Hours after federal authorities charged six people with attempting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, she held a press conference and blamed President Donald Trump for creating an environment that encourages such radical criminal behavior.

“Our head of state has spent the past seven months denying science, ignoring his own health experts, stoking distrust, fomenting anger, and giving comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division,” Whitmer told reporters in Lansing, the state capital, on Thursday.

“Last week,” she said, “the president of the United States stood before the American people and refused to condemn white supremacists and hate groups like these two Michigan militia groups. Stand back and stand by, he told them.”

Whitmer said that hate groups heard the president’s words “not as a rebuke, but as a rallying cry, as a call to action.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said six people had been charged with plotting to kidnap Whitmer as part of a plan to overthrow the state’s government. The suspects allegedly staked out Whitmer’s vacation home and planned to set off explosives to distract police while they kidnapped the governor. The U.S. said it would also bring charges against seven other people connected to the Wolverine Watchmen militia for attempts to target law enforcement officers and start a civil war.

Trump “has continually condemned white supremacists and all forms of hate,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement. “Governor Whitmer is sowing division by making these outlandish allegations. America stands united against hate and in support of our federal law enforcement who stopped this plot.”

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who spoke with Whitmer earlier in the day, complimented the FBI and police for handling the matter and criticized Trump. “The words of a president matter,” Biden said. “They can cause a nation to have the market rise or fall, go to war, make peace, but they can also breathe oxygen into those who are filled with hate and danger. And I just think it’s got to stop.”

Whitmer’s comments are the latest chapter in a running feud with Trump. She accused the president of being slow to deliver medical supplies in March when the Covid-19 pandemic was spreading rapidly in her state. Trump, in turn, criticized Whitmer for not swiftly reopening the Michigan economy.

Trump told Vice President Mike Pence, at a White House briefing in late March, “Don’t call the woman in Michigan.” That prompted her supporters to don t-shirts saying, “That Woman From Michigan.”

Whitmer said during the press conference that she never expected to have her life threatened as governor.

“When I put my hand on the Bible and took the oath of office 22 months ago, I knew this job would be hard, but I’ll be honest, I never could have imagined anything like this,” Whitmer said at the briefing.

The coronavirus pandemic has created a deep political divide in the state where Whitmer initiated some of the nation’s toughest mandates to stop the spread of the virus. That led to criticism from Trump and Republican leaders in the state. Marches against her orders were organized and an armed protest at the capitol led to the cancellation of a legislative session.

Whitmer’s measures were effective at slowing the spread of the virus. In early April, the state was seeing more than 2,000 new cases a day. The number has since dropped to fewer than 1,000 new cases on some days and less then 100 on others. The state’s unemployment rate fell to 8.7% in August from more than 10% in June, close to the national rate of 8.4%.

Whitmer had been using emergency orders to enforce restrictions on schools, businesses and citizens to slow the spread of the virus, relying on a 1945 law granting the governor broad emergency powers. However, the state’s high court found that unconstitutional on Friday. That prompted Trump to call the decision a “BIG win” in a tweet on Wednesday.

@realDonaldTrump

We just got a BIG win for the people of Michigan. Open up your Churches and your Schools. Auto companies pouring in and expanding (thank you Mr. President!). Have fun!Young Americans for Liberty

@YALiberty.@GovWhitmer is very sad the Michigan Supreme Court took away her unconstitutional emergency powers.
She claims with a straight face that the state economy is at risk without her mandates preventing people from working.

3:06 PM · Oct 7, 2020

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Whitmer called for unity to get through the crisis during the press conference.

“We are not one another’s enemy. This virus is our enemy and this enemy is relentless,” Whitmer said. “It doesn’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, young or old, rich or poor. It doesn’t care if we’re tired of it. It threatens us all.”

— With assistance by Jordan Fabian

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World News

Medical Journal Urges Trump’s Removal on Virus: Campaign Update

The New England Journal of Medicine says President Donald Trump’s administration should be voted out of office. In a jab at Kamala Harris, Vice President Mike Pence’s campaign said it had set aside a ticket for dead rapper Tupac Shakur at the debate Wednesday. Amd Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is resuming negative advertising now that Trump is out of the hospital.

There are 27 days until the election and 68 days until the Electoral College meets.

Other Developments:

  • Harris Team Is Confident About Health Precautions at Debate
  • Trump Back in Oval Office After Doctor Reports He’s Symptom-Free
  • Pence, Harris Meet for Vice-Presidential Debate: Viewers’ Guide
  • Jobs Gloom Grips Florida, Midwest Just 27 Days From the Election

New England Journal of Medicine Calls for Trump Administration’s Removal

The New England Journal of Medicine is calling for Trump’s administration to be voted out of office for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the first time in the prestigious publication’s 208-year history that it has denounced a political candidate.

72,049 in IndiaMost new cases today

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-0.​9457 Change in U.S. treasury bond yield since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

5.​3% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), Aug.


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In an editorial titled “Dying in a Leadership Vacuum,” the journal’s editors say U.S. leaders “have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.” While it doesn’t explicitly endorse Biden, the editorial clearly ascribes blame to the Trump administration and calls for a change of government.

“When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent,” the editors wrote. “We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.”

The editorial itemizes failures that it says are of “astonishing” magnitude, comparing the U.S. response to those of countries that implemented early testing and were able to contain the virus.

“Our current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government, causing damage that will certainly outlast them,” the editorial says. “Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed ‘opinion leaders’ and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies. -- Max Berley

Pence Sets Aside Ticket for Dead Rapper at Debate (5:42 p.m.)

Pence’s campaign said it has put aside a ticket to Wednesday night’s debate for Tupac Shakur, a jab at Harris’s comment that the performer who died more than two decades ago was her favorite living rapper.

Jason Miller, a campaign senior adviser, confirmed that a seat will be available for the dead rapper when Pence and Harris meet in Salt Lake City for their first and only debate starting at 9 p.m.

Harris drew mockery last month by answering “Tupac” when asked to name the “best rapper alive” at a virtual NAACP conference. When told of her mistake, Harris said: “Not alive, I know. I keep doing that.”

Shakur died at 25 in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in 1996. -- Mario Parker

Biden Camp to Restart Negative Ads with Trump in Recovery (5:14 p.m.)

Biden’s campaign is preparing to restart television and digital negative advertising now that Trump is recovering from his bout with the coronavirus, a person familiar with the campaign’s plans said Wednesday.

On Friday, the day Trump was hospitalized, the Biden campaign asked TV stations to stop airing negative ads out of respect for the president’s health issues. Biden said on Twitter, “This cannot be a partisan moment. It must be an American moment. We have to come together as a nation.”

But Trump returned to the White House on Monday and has been regularly attacking Democrats on Twitter even as he’s largely stayed out of the public eye.

“Our campaign has always been about making the positive case for Joe Biden, but there’s a stark contrast between Vice President Biden and Donald Trump and their visions for our country,” said Mike Gwin, a spokesman for the Biden campaign.

The Trump campaign complained Monday that the Democrat’s campaign was “still running negative ads” over the weekend. Some stations can be slow to pull ads, especially over weekends. And the Biden campaign continued with what they call “contrast” ads, which describe differences in policy approaches without attacks.

According to data from Advertising Analytics, the Biden campaign ran ads drawing contrasts between him and the president 7,125 times while negative ads ran 324 times on Thursday, before the president tweeted that he had the coronavirus. By Sunday, those numbers had fallen to 908 and 17, respectively, while positive ads touting Biden climbed from 2,106 spots on Thursday to 5,053 Sunday. -- Jennifer Epstein

Poll Shows Biden Widening Lead in Florida (2:19 p.m.)

Florida has been one of the most closely contested states so far this year, but a new poll shows Biden with a double-digit lead.

In a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, 51% of likely voters backed Biden and 40% backed Trump.

That 11-point margin is much higher than other recent polls. Before the Quinnipiac poll was released, the RealClearPolitics average showed Biden ahead by 3.5 percentage points in Florida.

Separate Quinnipiac polls released Wednesday showed Biden ahead by 13 points in Pennsylvania and 5 points in Iowa.

The surveys of 1,256 likely voters in Florida, 1,205 likely voters in Iowa and 1,211 likely voters in Pennsylvania had margins of error of 2.8 percentage points. They were conducted Oct. 1-5. -- Ryan Teague Beckwith

Biden Leads Trump in Nevada, Tied in Ohio (1:57 p.m.)

Biden leads Trump in Nevada and is tied in Ohio, according to two New York Times/Siena College polls conducted after the president’s diagnosis for Covid-19.

In both key swing states, Biden has significantly improved his standing compared with Hillary Clinton’s performance in 2016. Clinton won Nevada by 2 percentage points, while Biden leads there by 6 points. And Trump won Ohio buy 8 points four years ago, but Biden now has a thin 1-point lead there.

Biden is winning over twice as many Trump supporters as Trump is winning former Clinton voters, the Times said. But Biden’s advantage is also coming largely from voters who picked a third-party candidate in 2016 or didn’t vote at all.

Significant majorities in both states also said they believe Trump did not take adequate precautions against the virus. The president was hospitalized over the weekend with Covid-19, but has since returned to the White House and has sought to minimize the severity of the virus.

The polls were conducted Oct. 2-6 and had a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points. -- Gregory Korte

Trump Again Says He Can Win California in November (12:24 p.m.)

Trump has a habit of saying he might win reliably Democratic states where he is down by double digits.

On Wednesday morning, it was California’s turn.

Trump twice tweeted about winning the Golden State, arguing that a second term would mean “no more blackouts, shutdowns, ridiculous forrest fires, or water ‘rationing.’”

“We can win in California NOW!” he wrote.

@realDonaldTrump

Vote TRUMP California. No more blackouts, shutdowns, ridiculous forrest fires, or water “rationing” (coming soon). We can win in California NOW!The First@TheFirstonTVMany libs were triggered this morning in Los Angeles.

2:43 PM · Oct 7, 2020

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The polls suggest otherwise. In three surveys in September, Biden was ahead by 27 to 39 percentage points in California, which hasn’t gone for a Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan’s second term and backed Hillary Clinton over Trump by 30 points.

But then, Trump has publicly doubted those numbers as well, repeatedly making the debunked claim that millions of Californians voted illegally in 2016, costing him the state.

Harris Tests Negative for Coronavirus Before Debate (11:08 a.m.)

Harris tested negative for the coronavirus on Tuesday, ahead of the vice presidential debate slated for Wednesday.

The Democratic vice presidential nominee underwent a polymerase chain reaction or PCR test, which looks for the virus’s genetic material, according to a campaign aide.

In a memo released Tuesday, Pence’s physician said that he has also tested negative.

Harris and Pence will participate in a 90-minute debate in Salt Lake City tonight, separated by 12 feet of space and a plexiglass shield. Neither they nor the moderator will wear masks.

The Commission on Presidential Debates requires everyone at the debate site at the University of Utah to have been tested for the coronavirus and guests will be required to wear masks, or be escorted out. The First Family declined offers to don masks at the last presidential debate, even though President Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, tested positive two days later. -- Tyler Pager

South Carolina Senate Race Now a Tossup (10:27 a.m.)

The Cook Political Report Wednesday rated the South Carolina Senate race a tossup between Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham and Democrat Jaime Harrison, a sign, the report said, of “just how fast the GOP majority is slipping away.”

Jessica Taylor, Cook’s Senate editor, called the race the most surprising in the country, with many people once assuming Graham would cruise to re-election in what has been a reliably Republican state.

“Instead, the Republican incumbent finds himself in a tied race in both public and private surveys with challenger Jaime Harrison, who has proven to be perhaps Democrats’ best recruit and a fundraising behemoth,” she wrote.

Harrison, a former state party chairman, congressional aide, Democratic Party official and lobbyist, has spent or reserved more than $60 million in advertising so far, compared to a little over $20 million for Graham. -- Steven T. Dennis

Federal Debt Could Balloon Under Either Biden or Trump (9:56 a.m.)

No matter who wins in November, the federal debt could balloon by trillions, according to a new analysis.

Trump’s campaign plan would increase the debt by nearly $5 trillion over 10 years, while Biden’s plan would add $5.6 trillion to the debt, according to estimates from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

The current federal debt amounts to more than $27 trillion and the deficit, or the difference between what the country spends and the revenue it takes in, is projected to be about $3.3 trillion for this year.

Because of uncertainty about economic conditions and the lack of specificity in some of the plans, the think tank also ran low- and high-cost estimates.

Trump’s plan could increase the debt by as little as $700 billion or as much as nearly $6.9 trillion through 2030. Biden’s plan could reduce the debt by as much as $150 billion or increase it by as much as $8.3 trillion. -- Laura Davison

Michigan May Take Four Days to Count Votes (9:12 a.m.)

If the presidential election comes down to Michigan, be prepared to wait.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson said Tuesday that it may take the battleground state until the Friday after Election Day to finish counting ballots, even with a new law designed to speed up counting.

The Democratic elections official had been pushing the legislature to change a law that had barred local clerks from processing ballots to prepare them to be counted until the morning of the election.

Under a law signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday, clerks in cities with at least 25,000 people will be allowed to start the day before the election.

More than 523,000 mail-in ballots have been returned in Michigan so far, according to data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project at the University of Florida.

White House Taunts Biden on Delaware Founding Father (7:04 a.m.)

The White House issued a proclamation honoring the birthday of a slave-owning Founding Father from Delaware as part of a long-running campaign to taunt Biden.

When a statue of Caesar Rodney was removed in Wilmington this summer, Trump called it a “radical purge of America’s founding generation” and criticized Biden for not speaking up as “his home state’s history” was “dismantled and dismembered.”

Trump then added Caesar Rodney, who rode overnight on horseback in a storm to sign the Declaration of Independence, to the list of statues in his proposed National Garden of American Heroes.

“On June 12, 2020, the Caesar Rodney Equestrian Statue was removed as part of an ongoing, radical purge of America’s founding generation,” Trump said in the proclamation.

Biden Campaign’s New Fundraising Gambit: Yard Signs

The Biden campaign is heavily promoting the idea of yard signs in its latest Facebook ad campaign, though it may be more of a fundraising ploy.

In several related ads, the campaign asks supporters for small donations to cover the costs of putting up yard signs in key states.

“Yard signs are a crucial tool for showing our support among swing voters in battleground states,” the ad copy reads. “The more signs we send, the more voters we reach.”

The campaign may be overselling the effectiveness of yard signs. One extremely thorough study showed they can boost a candidate by around two percentage points, meaning they only make a difference in very close races.

In the RealClearPolitics average of polls, only Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio are within a two-point margin currently.

New York Times Comes Around to Biden in the End

When it made an endorsement in the Democratic presidential primary earlier this year, the New York Times noted some reasons it was not excited about the front-runner.

Biden, the paper’s editorial board wrote, had an agenda that “tinkers at the ends of issues like health care and climate” and focuses on “restoring the status quo” before Trump. Noting his age, it said it was “time for him to pass the torch.”

But neither of the two candidates the paper endorsed then -- Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar -- won the nomination. So on Wednesday, the paper came around on Biden, endorsing the Democratic presidential nominee as it has in every election since 1960.

In its Biden endorsement, the editorial board called his health care and climate plans, which have grown considerably since the primary, a “bold agenda aimed at tackling some of America’s most pressing Androblems.” It added that his running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, would be a bridge to the next generation.

And it pointed out several ways in which it said he would restore the pre-Trump status quo, including embracing the rule of law, respecting science, working with allies and not courting autocrats.

“Mr. Biden isn’t a perfect candidate and he wouldn’t be a perfect president,” the board wrote. “But politics is not about perfection. It is about the art of the possible and about encouraging America to embrace its better angels.”

Coming Up:

Harris and Mike Pence will meet for the only vice-presidential debate on Wednesday at the University of Utah.

— With assistance by Ryan Teague Beckwith, Laura Davison, Steven T. Dennis, Tyler Pager, Gregory Korte, Mario Parker, and Max Berley

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Categories
Markets

Trump’s Tweet Storm Is Swaying Global Markets Again

Global markets were whipsawed in the early hours of Wednesday after President Donald Trump unleashed a barrage of sometimes conflicting Twitter posts.

U.S. stocks slumped Tuesday while Treasuries surged after Trump tweeted that he had decided to halt stimulus talks. His posts during Asian hours on Wednesday — calling for support for airlines and the Paycheck Protection Program — helped erase losses in U.S. stock futures and Japanese shares. Most Asian currencies crept lower amid uncertainty over the next round of U.S. stimulus. In total, Trump tweeted or retweeted just under 40 times in the space of two hours.

Trump Blazes Away on Twitter at Many of His Usual Suspects

That’s boosting market volatility, which has already picked up this month after Trump tested positive for coronavirus as investors grappled with the existing uncertainty surrounding the U.S. election and a stimulus deal. A measure of implied volatility on one-month Treasury options jumped nearly 18 percentage points on Oct. 6, its biggest daily increase since March 12, when the market was rocked by surging coronavirus cases.

@realDonaldTrump

The House & Senate should IMMEDIATELY Approve 25 Billion Dollars for Airline Payroll Support, & 135 Billion Dollars for Paycheck Protection Program for Small Business. Both of these will be fully paid for with unused funds from the Cares Act. Have this money. I will sign now!3:54 AM · Oct 7, 2020

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“Assuming that Trump doesn’t flip-flop on his stance on the fiscal stimulus package, we think remnant hopes of reviving the risk-on, reflation trade may be put to rest for now,” said Terence Wu, a currency strategist in Singapore at Overseas-Chinese Banking Corp., warning investors should “stay nimble on shifting political winds.”

While the sensitivity of the U.S. Treasury market to Trump’s tweets peaked in May in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, his Twitter activity still significantly influences expectations of volatility in the market, an analysis by JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts who created the Volfefe Index, showed last month.

— With assistance by Dani Burger

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